The more obviously distinctive feature of the stories in Strange Language are their settings, social and geographical. In Atxaga's "Teresa, poverina mia", the narrator's family runs a sea-side boarding house; Harkaitz Cano's "The Mattress" features a "trailer trash" father and son. Pello Lizarralde's "Awkward Silence" is set in a traffic jam crossing a mountain pass. Javi Cillero Goiriastuena's "A Kiss in the Dark" involves a child visiting different areas of Bilbao. And Juan Garzia Garmendia's "Gubbio" begins with the town: "Gubbio is gray. Its rooftops are gray, the walls of its houses are gray, gray are the paving stones of its streets."
In "Gubbio" this is a frame for a historical fiction featuring a medieval nun-poet. The other historical story, Xabier Montoia's "Black as Coal" is set during the Spanish Civil War and involves a boy having an affair with a German pilot. And Inazio Mujika Iraola's "Like the Waters Release their Dead" is set in a Parisian boarding house in the present but looks back at the Civil War.
Ixiar Rozas' "A Draft" involves a refugee on a train to Paris. Set in an art gallery in Antwerp, Anjel Lertxundi's "Berlin is not So Far Away" features a man obsessed with Jean Fouquet's Melun Diptych painting. And there are a number of much shorter stories.
Strange Language is an engaging collection, quite broadly accessible and not just for visitors to the Basque Country or those with some other Basque connection.
- External links:
- buy from Bookshop.org
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
- share this review on Facebook or Twitter
- Related reviews:
- more Basque literature
- more short fiction